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Thune says Trump’s election claims aren’t productive if GOP wants to win in midterms

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Autoplay Senate Minority Whip John Thune said this week that Republicans "welcome" former President Donald Trump’s help in taking back the Senate majority, but repeating his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen "takes our eyes off the ultimate prize."

"President Trump still has a tremendous following among our supporters across the country and, you know, exercises that influence, or at least attempts to, on a daily basis," Thune, R-S.D., told Fox News. "But I think ultimately for us as Republican senators our job right now is to try to get the majority back in 2022 and provide that check and balance against this crazy Biden administration agenda."

Thune, who Trump last year called on to be primaried, announced this week that he will run for reelection after months of speculation. Thune said family factors were pulling him to retire but that goals to block President Biden’s agenda, implement GOP policies and potentially succeed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as the top Republican in the Senate all factored into his decision to run for another six-year term. Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., briefly speaks to reporters before heading into the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on Jan. 11, 2022, in Washington. THUNE SAYS REPUBLICANS WILL KEEP THE FILIBUSTER IF THEY TAKE BACK SENATE MAJORITY IN MIDTERMS

The minority whip said winning the Senate will be the top marker of a successful 2022 for Republicans. But he said continued arguments over the presidential election are counterproductive to that goal.

"To the degree that President Trump can be helpful, can contribute to," taking back the Senate, Thune said, "we welcome that."

"But I think any time we’re talking about the 2020 election and rehashing that, it takes our eyes off the ultimate prize. And so I think most Republican senators understand that in order for us to be successful as a country that we have to get the majority back in the Senate and that means focusing on the future not the past," he said. "We welcome the former president’s support of that, but would hope that he would play a constructive role and contribute to helping us win the majority back in 2022." Former President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the National Republican Congressional Committee’s annual spring dinner in Washington, April 2, 2019. Republicans face a tougher path to taking the Senate majority this year than they do in the House. That’s because all House members are up for reelection in 2022, while Republicans are playing defense on their 2016 Senate wins.With President Biden’s approval rating tanking, the economy flagging and following strong performances in states like Virginia and New Jersey in 2021, Republicans are clearly picking up political momentum.But McConnell warned last month about the possibility a poor candidate winning a 2022 primary could handicap Republicans in key Senate races. He also alluded to Republicans’ two Senate losses in the […]

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